More surgery / and my vanity

I’m sitting here this morning in bed. I’m having a bad pain day. The nerve pain is hot across my right side and chest and the there is that tingling tickling burning sensation that travels across to my throat. I cough. Nobody knows exactly why. They know I have a lot of scarring that has adhered to my chest under my arm and I have radiation damage as well. They feel my sensations come because of this issue. All these things that are very hard to fix.

It’s funny how such a little area can make a person disabled when it flares up. It’s very frustrating. I’m so much better than I was last year but I’m still plagued with pain and it’s too much of a focus of my day and it controls my life too much. So on Wednesday next week two surgeons are going to try to ease some of the pain.

My wonderful nerve surgeon and a plastic surgeon are going to try fat grafting. This procedure requires liposuction of an area on the body. With me it will be my stomach- and my love handles 🙂 -see the smiley? I’m all for losing some fat since I’ve put on weight from the medicine I take for nerve pain.

Anyway they spin that fat so they get the good stuff and then they inject in my areas of scarring and pain. The idea is twofold. The scar will be lifted off the chest wall which may relieve some of the pain . Think of having gum stuck in you pants pocket and the two sides are stuck together. Well that is my issue on the side of my body where I had the node biopsy. So your skin is all one piece and when one part is stuck onto your chest wall it throws everything off. My neck gets tight because the scar is so tight it pulls the skin and muscle all the way to my neck. I get rib and breast aches and muscle tightness in my back. All from this small area of my body being off kilter! So the fat will create cushioning under the scar.

The other thing that is looking hopeful with fat grafting is that the stem cells in the fat can help regenerate the radiation damaged tissues. This has been studied over the last few years and the results have been very promising.

So that’s where I am. My third surgery in the last year. All in hopes that I will get to an acceptable pain level. Pain free is likely not going to happen and that’s been hard for me to accept. But I have come to terms with it to a degree but I continue to look for ways to help it improve.

Thankfully I have an amazing surgeon who wants to help. He has brought in a trusted plastic surgeon to do the grafting as he assists. I offer myself up to their expertise and they are pretty optimistic that I’ll get some noticeable relief. So I’m praying this is so and crossing my fingers and toes for an extra boost of hope. If I get some improvement a second grafting can be performed. (More lipo!)

I did ask the plastic surgeon if he would put the extra fat in my face. He said he would during my exam but later thought better of it. Maybe it’s just too much for one session! Maybe he had been joining. I Just thought getting a few wrinkles filled might be an extra bonus!

Since my cancer and subsequent pain issues and because I have three teens who like seeing my hair gray – I have aged a lot in the last few years. So I have had some filler done in my face.

I can hear people gasping. But hello lots of us are getting Botox (I’m not a candidate in my forehead because I have too heavy a brow), fillers and nips and tucks. I don’t want to age gracefully if it is going to go this fast. It is not graceful. So I’m just trying to slow it down -and crap after what I’ve been through I deserve to do things that help me feel good about me.

I’m not one of the confident woman who can accept their body changes and aging. I wish I were. I’ve gained weight and I’m out of shape because I’m limited in the gym. I do walk a lot. But I am not feeling good about me. I’m used to being thinner and more muscular than soft.

I will say that some filler I have had I’ve liked and some I haven’t and thankfully I did not get the kind that lasts lots of years. I don’t like my cheeks probably because I’ve gained weight since I have had my cheeks done. And I feel too cheeky! But I like the filler in my smile lines and in a couple other facial lines. I’m scared to get the filler under my eyes. Which is a problem area for me so I invest in lots of concealer.

I share this because I’m not afraid to show my vanity which come from vulnerability. I’ve been tossed around the last four years. It’s been super hard . Sometimes I wonder why I am still so vain and not just thankful for what I have. The fact is I’m both. I’m thankful and vain. And truly it’s each persons choice what they choose to do or don’t do with their bodies. So I own it. I’m vain but I tell myself that’s ok because I’ve been through hell.

So when the surgeon was thinking he might put some fat in my face I felt excited and nervous. It’s like maybe I could have pain reduction and a cosmetic boost all in one. I figure he changed his mind for a good reason. Probably wants to stick to the real issue at hand. My pain. Which is just fine with me.

In the long run if I had to prioritize what is most important – getting rid of pain would rank #1. Obviously. So heres to surgery number 3 for my post cancer treatment pain – I’m praying for good pain relief . (And if he has some extra fat for a wrinkle or two maybe he would surprise me).

Oh and there is the liposuction 😉

Hey whatever it takes to keep the spirits up right?

Am I that good? 

In the days and weeks since my mother in laws passing this past July there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t thought of her. I miss her so much and I feel a little lost at sea without her. 

I was a lucky one I got a great mother In law and she became a close friend. 

To know her was to love her. She was really special. When you spoke with her she made you feel so important. She never wanted the conversation to dwell on her. Though closer to her end time she did suffer and we did talk about her. We tried to make her feel nearly as good as she had made us feel over the years we knew her. 

Doris always made you feel like you were a great person.  In her eyes you were the best. If her son loved me then I was a rock star. 

Just knowing her made me feel like I wanted to be a better person. Not because she would judge you because you fell short but because she saw you in a way that maybe you had never seen in yourself. She was good and kind and you wanted to be good and kind. And just maybe bc such a good and kind person could see you in this way -just maybe you were those good things she thought you were -and you just walked a little differently -maybe more confidently maybe more happily or  you acted more kind to others. 

She herself was a quiet soul. She didn’t want a big deal to be made over her. We spent hours on the phone. She listened to my problems or just things I did since our  last conversation.  We talked about her life too. Our phone conversations are my most precious memory I have with her. Being together for our many family dinnners didn’t always allow for the intimate conversations that the phone brought. We were one on one. I was hers for that time. And she was mine. 

I was always awed at how far her love spread. She was close to cousins and nephews and nieces. And not once did she make you feel like you had to be anyone but yourself and never did she make me feel compared to anyone. Everyone in her life was as important as the other. 

That doesn’t mean she never got upset with anyone. She did. On rare occasions. Usually her dismay was understandable and it came from her fierce love and protection of her people. What she wanted most was for all of us to love eachother. Especially after she was gone. 

There are a lot of us. Six sons and wives and grand and great grands, nieces and nephews and cousins and removed cousins, and friends. We all loved her and we all miss her so much. 

Since she’s been gone I’ve run the gamut of emotions. I have wondered a lot am I really as good as she thought? I know I wanted to be a better human when she was living and I continue in that endeavor. But death makes you think of the short trajectories our lives have. Some run shorter than others. Doris lived 91 years. But I’ll bet she thought it rushed by. Whether she felt that like I do I don’t know but she loved so well during her time on earth. And in my hindsight of my life I see things that I’m not proud of. Things that I wish I could undo. Am I really the person she thought I was? I don’t feel that way now. But I hold on to the fact that she loved me warts and all. Because I know she saw the lessor sides of me. Me frustrated at my kids, me stressed as we hosted family dinners, probably even me angry. She knew I wasn’t perfect and she still thought I hung the moon. That is a gift I was given from her. 

I asked my husband Kevin if he thought any of us were as good as his mother thought we were and he said “no – probably not.” We both laughed and cried a bit. Doris Sweeney saw the light in everybody. 

In hindsight there are so many things I’d like to change. I don’t like how fast the sun rises and sets these days. But on each sun rise I can try to be the better version of me – the one she saw in me. She may not be here to put shine on me when I am tarnished but I can still try everyday to be that person she saw in me. I will try.  I will. 

Selfies! Mom (Doris) and me.